We have voted on our Top 5 prospects at each position in the Mets minor league system. For the sixth installment in the series we now analyze the Mets five best outfield prospects. We have already covered shortstop, second base, catcher, third base, and first base.
Looking over the Mets top outfield prospects, there is a definite theme that emerges. Each of the Mets top guys is a potential five tool player who needs varying degrees of time to put everything together.
With them, we see a definite front office goal in trying to acquire athletic players who could one day develop power. The only real issue with most of these outfielders is they are too far away to provide any immediate help for the major league club.
#5 Champ Stuart, CF
2016 Level: St. Lucie Mets & Binghamton Mets
2016 Stats: 114 G, 518 PA, 459 AB, 72 R, 110 H, 12 2B, 7 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 40 SB, 6 CS, .240/.314/.349
Stuart is as gifted as any player in the Mets minor league system. He has exceptional speed which not only helps him steal bases, but it also helps him play a terrific center field. On top of this, he certainly has the tools to get on base and hit for power. Unfortunately, he has struggled with plate discipline which has hampered his development a bit.
With that said, there have been flashes with Stuart this season. While repeating St. Lucie, he hit .265/.347/.407, which has been his best stretch as a professional to date. He was a pleasant surprise in the Arizona Fall League hitting .300/.329/.400 with 12 stolen bases in 19 games.
On the downside, Stuart has typically regressed each time he has jumped a level. While Stuart started the season well for St. Lucie, he struggled in 43 games for Binghamton hitting .201/.264/.261. The struggles in Stuart’s career may be attributed to the fact that the Bahamian born player came late to baseball. While all the tools are there, he has yet to fully develop as a player.
This season Stuart is likely to be slated as the Binghamton Rumble Ponies Opening Day center fielder.
#4 Ricardo Cespedes, CF
2016 Level: Kingsport Mets
2016 MiLB Stats: 56 G, 241 PA, 227 AB, 30 R, 73 H, 4 2B, 3 3B, HR, 16 RBI, 7 SB, 7 CS, .322/.356/.379
If there’s a player in the Mets organization named Cespedes, you know there is reason to get excited about him. This Cespedes is a 19-year old signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.
This year Cespedes took a tremendous step forward while playing in the Appalachian League. He not only showed himself to be a good defensive center fielder, but he also showed a more patient approach at the plate. At times, Cespedes has shown glimpses of being a real offensive threat, and he has shown he may very well develop some power one day.
In many ways, he is a bit raw, and he still needs to grow into his body. However, that makes a player like him all the more exciting because he is producing while he still is learning to put his entire game together.
Given when he was signed, and how well he performed in Kingsport, Cespedes will likely start the season for the Columbia Fireflies.
#3 Wuilmer Becerra, RF
2016 Level: St. Lucie Mets
2016 MiLB Stats: 65 G, 263 PA, 247 AB, 27 R, 77 H, 17 2B, HR, 34 RBI, 7 SB, CS, .312/.341/.393
The 2016 season was somewhat of a lost one for Becerra. Early on, everyone was wondering why his power wasn’t developing at a rate that was expected. The answer turned out being Becerra was dealing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder that would eventually require season-ending surgery.
Despite the surgery, the Mets added Becerra to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. The move was certainly justifiable as Becerra has tremendous raw power, and it he recovers well from the surgery, he can get back on the path to being a power hitting corner outfield in the majors.
There is also some doubt now whether Becerra can stay in right field. Athletically, Becerra has the tools to be a good outfielder.
Becerra’s recovery and rehabilitation will dictate where he starts the season. Ultimately, look for Becerra to be playing right field at some point next season for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
#2 Brandon Nimmo, CF
2016 Level: Las Vegas 51s & New York Mets
2016 MiLB Stats: 97 G, 444 PA, 392 AB, 72 R, 138 H, 25 2B, 8 3B, 11 HR, 7 SB, 8 CS, .352/.423/.541
2016 MLB Stats: 32 G, 80 PA, 73 AB, 12 R, 20 H, HR, 6 RBI, .274/.338/.329
With Michael Conforto struggling at the major league level with an injured wrist, Nimmo finally got his chance to play in the majors, and the former first round draft pick acquitted himself fairly well. While his stats do not jump off at the page at you, you did see a player who was not over-matched in his time in the majors.
Overall, Nimmo had made strides at the plate. As you would expect from someone playing in the Pacific Coast League, Nimmo had his best batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage as a professional. As he has most of his career, he has shown patience at the plate, as evidenced by his leading the Pacific Coast League best OBP.
With his long home run at Citi Field, we know what type of power he possesses. However, Nimmo has yet to show an ability or a willingness to identify his pitch at the plate and drive it somewhere. In that sense, Nimmo at least seems more comfortable being a top of the order hitter who can work the count and find his way on base.
Defensively, Nimmo is an adequate center fielder, and he still has the tools to stay there even after a 2015 knee surgery. However, it seems that sooner or later, Nimmo is going to be destined for a corner outfield spot. If that is the case, he is going to need to produce a bit more offensively. That is perhaps why there has been a more pessimistic view of Nimmo of late where many see him as a fourth outfielder.
Still, there is plenty of room for Nimmo to grow, has shown a receptiveness to coaching, and he has shown tremendous strides over the past season, and no one should discount him making even bigger strides in 2017.
Due to the depth of the Mets outfield, Nimmo will start the season in Las Vegas. Should anyone suffer an injury, he will be the first one called-up to the majors.
#1 Desmond Lindsay, CF
2016 Level: GCL Mets & Brooklyn Cyclones
2016 MiLB Stats: 37 G, 150 PA, 122 AB, 21 R, 37 H, 6 2B, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 3 SB, CS, .303/.433/.451
In 2015, the Mets didn’t have a first round draft pick because of the Michael Cuddyer signing. Lindsay has shown it didn’t matter as the Mets were able to get a first round talent in the second round.
Lindsay has all of the tools, and he is only scratching the surface. Last season, Lindsay showed an ability to both get on base and to hit for power. Overall, he’s shown an advanced approach at the plate, and he has performed extremely well at each level. His performances are all the more impressive when you consider he has typically been young for each level he has played.
Defensively, Lindsay is starting to put it together. Despite his playing mostly first and third base in high school, the Mets moved the athletically gifted and very fast Lindsay in center field. He has improved reading and tracking down balls. At the moment, he uses his speed to cover up some of his growing pains, and he certainly has the arm to stay in center for the long-term.
Overall, Linsday is as exciting a prospect as there is in the Mets minor league system, and he is progressing ahead of schedule. Giving his trajectory, he could start the season with St. Lucie.
Aside from these outstanding prospects, there were a couple of outfielders who didn’t make the list that still deserve honorably mention. Like the aforementioned players, Ranfy Adon is a potential five tool player. He is well advanced in the field, but the 19-year old still needs time to develop at the plate. If he figures it out, he has plus power potential.
Another player worth mentioning is Kevin Kaczmarski. The outfielder has shown himself to be a good defender, and he has shown an ability to get on base in his relatively brief professional career.